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March 2021 Water ConservationMarch 2021March 2021 water water management for a sustainable future conservation Lake Oswegowww.lowaterconservation.com Water ConservationWater Conservation Let’s Talk Water Kevin McCaleb, Water Conservation Coordinator 503-675-3747 kmccaleb@lakeoswego.city It’s that time again, when the weather is showing signs of warming up, daylight is lasting a bit longer and it’s time for me to talk water with you. As summer approaches, water usage will begin to climb exponentially. A Lake Oswego resident typically uses as much water in the three months of summer as they do in the other nine months combined; many will use even more. The issues don’t only pertain to cost or wasted water, but also the quality. Let’s focus on what we are doing in our yards, which will have a definite impact on the water downstream. A little bit about water: Water is an essential element for all life. Without it, there is no life. The amount of water that exists on this planet today is the exact same amount of water that has existed since Earth’s formation. We cannot make more water.. We cannot make more water. We can however, affect the quality of that water, positively and negatively. We know its power; its blessing, and we know its cost. Yet there is more about water we may not know, properties of water that may be overlooked or passed over as to their importance in water management. The one I want to talk about here is water’s abilities as a solvent. Water is known as the “Universal Solvent.” It can dissolve more substances into itself than anything else on the planet. Tough Turf Love Turf grass, which makes up our lawns, are often criticized as being huge water wasters. The fact is, I have never seen any grass intentionally throw water away nor have I seen it turn any water on or off. No, we are the wasters. Grass is only the object of our attention. We feel for some reason that our grass requires special care, that it is somehow a gentle and sensitive plant. Grass is a lot of things, but it is not the unhealthy dependent we may think it is. Turf is tougher than we acknowledge, and we can still have a thriving lawn without the tender, over-watering touch. This year let us display some tough love to rein in excess water usage. Here are some steps to take: 1. Face (acknowledge) the problem: Accept the fact that grass was here long before irrigation and that it managed to live, even flourish, without our help. 2. Accept: We have been beguiled by images of emerald green, perfect lawns. Picturesque, postcard-worthy scenes of serenity that draw us in. Most lawns that appear in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped to perfection. These do not represent the majority of the lawns in the country. Know that real lawns have flaws, blemishes, moles and a host of other maladies to contend with. 3. Insure: Your money, your property. Know that what is being done to your lawn and that what is being done is in the best interest of your grass. Test soils. Ask service workers questions and check out the answers. 4. Let go: As you withhold the water, your grass will first try to illicit guilt from you by appearing less green. It will rally some of the neighbors into giving your yard sidelong glances and moving their dogs to the other side of the street 5. Stay strong: Don’t give in. Your lawn will find balance with reduced watering and will look healthier and healthier with less water. Find that middle ground. Create a lean green healthy machine, and cut the cost of water, amendments and other expenditures. Have a party using the money you save. Continued on page 2 If you’re thinking about planting a tree, make sure it’s native. For a list of native trees, visit www.lakeoswego.city/trees/tree-code-frequently-asked-questions#q13. Additional information regarding native trees can be found on the Oregon State University, Department of Horticulture website here: www.oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/native-or.htm. Water Situation State of the State So far this year, we are looking pretty good, though we aren’t out of the woods yet. As always, the next couple of months will be key. Hopefully we will have continued snow fall, but more importantly, we don’t want unseasonably warm temperatures. The snow pack will hopefully melt slowly and not drag the topsoil from our burned forests into the rivers. Fingers crossed. U.S. Drought Monitor - Oregon February 16, 2021 water water management for a sustainable future conservation Lake OswegoCity of Lake Oswego 380 A Avenue, PO Box 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 General Information: 503-635-0270Water Conservation Information: 503-675-3747 www.lowaterconservation.com It is capable of bonding with a host of chemicals, minerals and other substances. In most cases, you won’t notice any visual changes, but those added substances have made the water less pure and therefore less healthy for us or any other life that depends on it. A perfect example would be pouring table salt into water: the crystals are dissolved into the water, leaving it visually the same. It still looks like water, but it doesn’t taste the same when you drink it. As rain and irrigation water travels from our yards, streets, houses, businesses and elsewhere, all the invisible chemicals dissolved into the water gather along the way ending up in streams and lakes, and eventually the ocean. Don’t let your water cross the line. If we keep our water on our own property it cannot pick up any additional substances from neighboring properties or the street.. I am encouraging everyone to take action this season: don’t allow your sprinklers to put down more water than the soil can handle, and frequently monitor and adjust your sprinklers. Watch for runoff and over sprays onto sidewalks or roadways. If you see runoff or overspray, make changes to eliminate wasted water. Decrease your sprinkler schedules to ensure that the water that goes on your yard stays on your yard. Keep the water off of the streets, walkways and driveways. Reduce your use of pesticides and herbicides. Spot application as opposed to broadcasting is a much safer option. Pull unwanted vegetation by hand if you’re able. Pesticides and herbicides are indiscriminate killers and they will kill the good right along with the bad; and when they dissolve into water, they will continue to kill both natural and invasive plants and bugs wherever the water travels on its way to rivers and lakes and groundwater. Don’t waste money and water by applying unnecessary amendments. Test your soils first and learn what is needed. The City offers free home testing kits that are very accurate. Incorporate more native flowers, shrubs and trees into the landscape. They are better suited to the weather we have in this region, so they require less frequent watering and are less affected by regional pests. Sweep your walks, driveways and patios. If you must use water, divert it onto the yard and not into the street. Wash cars and other equipment on the grass. This year let’s work inside the lines. Need help? Call Kevin at 503-675-3747 to schedule an audit this year. Audits will begin in June. We will start booking appointments mid-May. Let’s Talk WaterContinued from page 1 “To Do List” Calendar By the time you get this issue of the Conservation newsletter, four of the six weeks of winter predicted by Punxsutawney Phil on groundhog’s day will have passed. Record levels of rainfall will have happened as well as some nasty snow and ice events. Some of you may be crying over the outcome of the Super Bowl and others dancing a jig. Some quite frankly won’t give a hoot either way. One thing is for sure though: by now everyone in Lake Oswego is on pins and needles in anticipation of this, the first conservation newsletter of the year. The heightened anticipation for this issue can be attributed largely to the lively repartee, insightful information and helpful tips contained within its pages. (I am convinced this is the main reason that copies fly off of the shelves soon after printing. Others may argue that they fly off of the shelves because it is mailed to literally everyone in Lake Oswego. Potato/Potăto.) This issue also marks the beginning of the end of the wet season. That time when we can once again step out into our back yard and not sink up to our knees in mud. When we can at last holster our umbrellas and pick up a shovel. This issue reminds us that those overcast days that seem to last forever are waning and that the transition into the next exceptional summer in Northwestern Oregon is underway. Granted, there will likely still be a bit of wet and cold for some weeks to come. So to help hold down the grousing at how painfully slow this transition may indeed be, and to prevent us from going totally stir crazy, I offer you a few things to do to prepare for the coming season. March • Tune up the power equipment, edger, mower, weedeater etc. • Prep and sharpen hand tools. • This is a great month to plant many varieties of strawberries, blueberries raspberries and many other delicious and decorative berry plants. Consult with nurseries and gardeners for specific methods.• Set up the planting beds (areas) for your veggie garden and start peas, beets, spinach, potatoes, broccoli and onions, to name a few. • Great time to do bulb sets.• Between now and June is the best time to aerate your lawn and add soil amendments. Rake up and remove the plugs and consider adding compost to enhance drainage and nutrient exchange to the roots. Before applying any fertilizer, you should have your soil tested to determine what is actually needed. The City offers testing kits for free - to request one, contact Kevin at 503-675-3747 or kmccaleb@lakeoswego.city. April • Have your backflow assembly tested. April and May are perfect months to get this done. These tests are required annually to be done by a certified technician and the results filed with the City. For more information call 503-635-0280 or go on line to www.lakeoswego.city/publicworks/backflow-and-cross-connection-control-program. • Do clean up on your yard. Remember to clean up and prune around your water meter to provide access for the meter readers.• Lawn seeding if desired. Hand water if needed. Do not start your sprinklers yet! • Start carrots, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, leeks, etc. • Weed control: Always start with the least toxic method. Nothing eases frustration and anxieties like a day out in the yard pulling weeds. This is the best and least toxic of all weed control. If you do decide to use an herbicide, read the label before using. I always start with the lowest concentration recommended. There are literally hundreds of sites online that have recipes for homemade and organic herbicides that may work just as well and are a lot safer to use. • Pesticides should be used sparingly. They are indiscriminate in what they kill and will kill the good with the bad. Consider planting select herbs and flowers in and around your shrubs and garden areas to help control insects and minimize the necessity to use additional chemicals. Dill, chives, garlic leeks, shallots, petunias, nasturtiums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, alliums and many more are beneficial in deterring insects and attractive in the landscape. May • Irrigation system tune up time. Start up your sprinklers and check for winter damage. Check for leaks, broken lines, broken risers and heads. Adjust your sprinklers so that they are not spraying on the sidewalks, driveways or into the street. This is a good time to replace common spray nozzles with the more efficient multi-stream rotators. Make sure the controller is operating correctly (all of the buttons and displays are working). If you haven’t installed a rain sensor, one can be purchased from the City for $5 - to request one, contact Kevin at 503-675-3747 or kmccaleb@lakeoswego.city. Check that all valves are operating correctly. Make all repairs and turn your controller off. This is still early for regular watering cycles to begin. Typically there is still lots of water in the soil. No established trees or woody shrubs will need any help. Lawn and flowers may require some water, but at this point watering should be done manually on the controller and only as needed. Until the temperatures begin to climb consistently to 80 degrees, watering should be very infrequent, except in cases of new plantings and these should be done by hand. • Start the rest of the plantings. Corn, tomatoes (may need to cover at night), cucumbers and any annuals. Weather Stations As many of you may know, we will be moving from the old City Hall to the newly constructed building. During this transition, you may notice some interruptions in the weather station displays. We will be working hard to minimize these issues, but there may be some unexpected glitches. I am working hard to keep you all as aware as I can as to when these interruptions may occur, but please be patient as we go forward. I will update the webpage - www.lakeoswego.city/conservation/weather-stations-and-climate-information - with any significant changes. At this time, there is only one scheduled outage, which will be in the next week or two when we take the City Hall weather station off- line. We have not yet determined where the station will be re-installed as the current location will be demolished and the new City Hall roof does not have suitable space. We will be reinstalling it, but need to find a new location going forward. For questions, please contact Kevin McCaleb at 503-675-3747 or kmccaleb@lakeoswego.city.